Don’t Box Me In

Me when it feels like someone is expecting an older version of me

For just over three years, I had the luxury of working in a local ministry environment. The final year of this journey had me step into a new church environment while my family remained with our home congregation. I would hear rumours of people asking where I was, why wasn’t I present at Church A and so on. Hubby would politely answer that I was doing well, thanks for asking with a gentle reminder that I was serving at Church-Ministry B,

Now that the ministry role has come to a close, I have been attending Church A with Hubby and fam. Some have smiled and said hello. Others share a hug and “it’s nice to see you.”

A few though ask the question.

“Are you coming back to Church A?”
“I see you here a lot now. Does that mean you’re coming back?”

It took some time for me to determine why these particular questions set my hackles up. After all, they were trying to communicate that I had been missed and that they appreciated having me present. What my spirit felt was my new self being pushed into an old box.

The old box of who they thought I was before I went into the mission field. The old box of Robyn fitting in. I can’t say for certain what that Robyn looked like, only that this version is different. This version sees the world differently, is not willing to compromise on who she is to ‘fit in’. This Robyn is more willing to speak up, to speak truth – in love and with gentleness but truth openly instead of hiding in case it make someone not like her. This Robyn has more ink, more attitude and more courage.

And she wants to stay that way.

Some will read all this and say it’s over-reacting. “Just take the welcome and the encouragement.”

How about we change the question. Instead of “are you coming back?” ask “Will you be joining us this summer?” or “Will we see you more? We’ve missed you.” Even better though, a statement then a question: “It is so nice to see you! How was your time in ministry? Did God do amazing things you can share?”

I’ll own it. Over-reaction and all. The word “back” sinks my gut and rips apart my heart. Ask me about my time in ministry. Get to know me as I am now.

Or don’t.

Just don’t box me in.

2 Seconds of Bliss

It’s the fraction of a moment when you first wake up where things are full of potential. Look out a window, take a deep breath, yawn, stretch, sigh, maybe pray for a moment or simply be.

And then reality sweeps in. The crushing weight of … fear, loneliness, grief, hopelessness. Futility.

I remember a time when this wasn’t a challenge. When getting up in the morning just was. Work. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. And all was as it should be with the world. I never had cause to consider it would ever be another way.

When Lo came into the world it was evident that genetic anomalies were at play. And while it meant early intervention, visits to more “-ologists” than I knew existed and a future of therapies and support services, the most exhausting part was the evening when it was time for me to go to bed.

Going to sleep meant being one step closer to going through it all. Again. Another day of doctors, therapies, advocating, researching, plus the more joyful but tiring aspects of parenting – not to mention the fact that Lo is a second child so there was another child already running about needing to be cared for.

I began to dread the evening hours. That moment when the TV is turned off and everyone is ready for sleep. It wasn’t the lack of rest ahead or the emotional or financial cost that would cause the anxiety but the anticipation that for a moment, first thing when my eyes open, there would be moment of bliss. Of having forgotten. Of seeing the world as it once was and, for many, still is. It was knowing that the bliss would last for only a fraction of a moment before being squashed by reality while I watched.

Eventually we grew beyond this, Lo began to thrive. The critical issues taken care of, her limitations overcome and school life settled into. There came a time I never though would arrive – where I could actually forget she had a unique genetic condition. Now, 11 years in, we can go a long time without the name of the syndrome even coming to mind let alone be voiced.

Mornings became mornings. Evening was no longer torture waiting to happen. It’s amazing what you don’t notice is gone.

Until it comes back.